Citing Frozen Funding and Political Climate, Woolly Mammoth Cancels The Russians are Coming!
By Carey Purcell
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company has canceled The Russians are Coming! A Festival of Radical New Theatre from Moscow, a workshop of productions helmed by Russian theatre artists.
The cancelation is credited to the freezing of funding that had been approved for the festival.
The project was planned as part of the Washington, D.C.-based company's 35th anniversary season and announced in partnership with Philip Arnoult's Center for International Theatre Development (CITD).
"However, due to the political instability in Russia at this time — of which the Crimean invasion is simply one part — funding that had been approved for the festival has now been frozen," press notes state.
Artistic director Howard Shalwitz visited Moscow in November 2013 to scout for works and to negotiate the logistics for the festival; CITD founder and director Philip Arnoult returned from Moscow last week with the news of a new and volatile climate.
"I'm seeing a cultural war being fought against the background of the larger Ukrainian stories. Our artistic partners, as well as organizers in the country, are both stunned and saddened at how quickly the cultural climate has changed," Arnoult said in a statement.
"I have been traveling to see theatre in Eastern Europe for the past four years, and these are the works that have inspired me when I think about the evolution of our own work at Woolly Mammoth," Shalwitz added. "Today, these very works and the artists who create them are in jeopardy. Reports from our colleagues in Russia are bleak, with news of arrests, intimidation, and fear for the direction their country is heading in. We stand in solidarity with Russia's artists, and we wish to express our heartfelt concern for the challenges they now face. Even though this festival cannot continue as planned, we will continue to explore other opportunities to engage with them, which seems more important now than ever."
The theatre is currently exploring a number of different options to fill the gap in its 35th anniversary season and intends to announce a replacement in the coming weeks.
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